BET releases $20 million for fire station construction

The bids are in and the town is on the verge of making a choice for which contractor will be in charge of building the new central fire station.

The identity of the firm that presented the lowest bid remains undisclosed at this point, but work has begun on a contract with the company. Because of that, at its Jan. 22 meeting, the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) unanimously approved the release of $20 million for the project. That money had already been slated to be spent on the construction as part of the current year’s budget, but the BET had placed a condition on it, necessitating a review before the money was officially released to be spent.

Conditions on major capital projects have become commonplace in recent years as a way for the BET to get status reports before additional money is spent. The action had originally been scheduled to take place last Tuesday, but last week’s snowstorm, which dumped close to 11 inches on Greenwich, forced a rare postponement, and the meeting took place on Wednesday instead.

Out of the $20 million that was approved, $17.5 is meant to be spent on the actual construction of the new fire station. The approved amount also includes a 10% contingency for the project, equaling $1.75 million, which provides what is essentially a safety net in case there are cost overruns and more money is needed. The total also has $250,000 for renewing a Greenwich Fire Department lease at 75 Holly Hill Road, along with $300,000 to hire a construction manager and $200,000 for construction administration for the project.

According to town Building Superintendent Alan Monelli, 14 bids were received for the fire station and the three lowest bids received were all under the $17.5-million figure. BET Budget Committee Chairman Marc Johnson said the town was doing the due diligence report on the lowest bidder to determine if a deal should be made and that in order for contract work to proceed with this firm, the BET needed to first release the money for the full amount.

At Mr. Johnson’s recommendation, which followed a unanimous vote of the Budget Committee, the BET added a new condition to the release so that whatever money was left between the low bidder’s estimate and the $17.5 million set aside for construction could be put in with the contingency to deal with possible cost overruns. He said this figure looked to be close to $978,000.

The current start date for the construction is the beginning of March and it is estimated that the project will take 22 months to complete.


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